Prevent severe illness in seniors with a flu shot
The flu season is upon us again. Unfortunately, older adults and caregivers are two of the most at-risk groups of people.
Getting a flu shot is a quick and simple way to significantly reduce the chance that you or your older adult will get sick.
And if either of you do end up getting the flu, having had the shot makes it less severe and less likely to develop into dangerous complications.
We share 5 reasons why a flu shot for seniors is absolutely essential.
We also explain when getting the flu shot is most effective, where to get a flu shot, what type seniors should get, and where to get additional information from a trusted source.
5 reasons why a flu shot for seniors is so important
1. Seniors and caregivers are at higher risk for flu
Cold and flu season is here again. Two of the most at-risk populations are seniors and caregivers.
Seniors are vulnerable to flu because their immune systems are weaker due to age and made worse by chronic illness. A flu shot for seniors protects them against serious illness and complications.
For caregivers, the chronic stress of taking care of an older adult impairs the immune system. And spending a lot of time with your older adult means passing germs back and forth.
When you get a flu shot, you’ll reduce the risk that you’ll get sick and infect your older adult. It will also save you the misery of being sick while continuing to take care of them.
2. Flu is a serious health risk for seniors
For seniors, the flu can quickly develop into a severe illness and may cause death.
3. Getting the flu shot reduces flu risk and severity
Even if the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it’s still worthwhile. Research shows that if someone who is vaccinated gets the flu, it will be a milder case.
People 65 and older are at high risk of serious flu complications and account for the majority of flu hospitalizations and deaths each year.
But seniors who got the flu shot reduced their risk of being hospitalized due to flu by 50%. That’s a huge difference.
4. The flu shot is free under Medicare
If your older adult has Medicare, the flu shot is free as long as the provider accepts Medicare.
There is no co-insurance or co-payment needed. And your older adult doesn’t have to meet their deductible to get the vaccine.
Most private insurance companies cover flu shots as a preventive service. If you don’t have insurance, many drugstores and clinics offer flu shots at low cost.
5. Protect against deadly flu complications
A severe form of pneumonia is a common and deadly complication of the flu.
In addition to the flu shot, people age 65 or older, smokers, and those with diabetes or lung problems should get a pneumococcal vaccination.
The pneumococcal vaccine isn’t needed every year, so be sure to check with your older adult’s doctor to see if they need one.
When to get the flu shot: starting in October
The CDC recommends that everyone should get vaccinated before the end of October, especially adults over age 65.
That’s because flu activity starts as early as October.
After getting the shot, it takes about 2 weeks for the protective flu antibodies to develop in the body. So, the sooner your older adult and you get the shot, the sooner you’ll have protection against the flu.
But getting the shot at any time is still a lot better than not getting it at all.
Where to get a flu shot: find a local clinic
Flu shots are now available in many convenient locations, like major drugstores, health clinics, and doctor’s offices.
That makes getting a flu shot quick and easy – you usually don’t even need an appointment.
The CDC’s Flu Vaccine Finder shows flu vaccine clinics near you. In the box below, enter your zip code or city and state:
Or, visit the Vaccine Finder website and enter your zip code or city and state to find flu shot clinics near you.
What kind of flu shot do seniors need? High-dose
For the 2018-2019 flu season, injectable flu shots are recommended. The nasal spray version is only approved for use in non-pregnant individuals who are 2 to 49 years old.
Seniors need a special version because their immune systems are weaker. That decreases their body’s ability to have a good immune response after getting the vaccine and puts them at higher risk for severe illness.
A higher dose vaccine gives older people a better immune response which increases protection against flu.
Where to get more info: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
To get additional information from a trusted, reputable source, visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions page.
There you’ll be able to find out what’s new for the 2018-2019 flu season, what types of vaccinations are available, and more.
Recommended for you:
- 16 Cold and Flu Prevention Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
- Prevent and Manage the 10 Most Common Chronic Diseases in Older Adults
- 7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor: Being a Health Advocate
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Mayfair Pharmacy